Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Question of the day: Will Jeff become Nepalese?

Heading to Nepal (Jeff and Jacky)
Jacky is wearing an arm warmer, not because it is cold,
but to protect her scar from the sun.
 We thought the rest of our trip would  be smooth sailing.  Wrong!  Once Jeff returned from picking up his new passport in New Delhi we headed to Nepal.  The heat and humidity were challenging enough but then Jeff developed a gastrointestinal illness which made it difficult for him to eat or drink.  He still got on his bike every day and we continued on trying to stay with our schedule.  You just can't keep a "Freidhof" down!  (Remember the previous blog where I talked about Boot Camp??)
As we were exiting India at the India/Nepal border, the border patrol looked at Jeff's Indian Visa paperwork and told him that his Indian Visa was no longer valid and if he exited India he would not be able to get back in!   Jeff was beside himself because he had just spent many days and hours at the Indian Visa Office in New Delhi clarifying with them that his prior visa was still active, that he could still leave the country and re-enter as he has a multiple entry visa, and making sure everything was complete and in order.   (For those of you that don't know Jeff, he is extremely thorough!)  We were in a predicament since they had already stamped Ward's and my Indian exit papers so we had to cross.  They told Jeff that if he crossed into Nepal he would need to go to Kathmandu for a new Indian Visa. 
Entered into Nepal.
Jeff's fate??  Still unknown!!

We hadn't planned on going to Kathmandu as we'd heard it is a big dirty city.  Pokhara is the recommended tourist spot that lies in the truly beautiful Annapurna Himalayan Range.  We've been cracking jokes continually about Jeff finding a Nepalese wife and staying here since he can't leave.  I think he has accepted this.  He has since purchased a dhaka topi (traditional Nepal hat) and struts around town with it.  All kidding aside, there is still a little concern since he doesn't have permission to enter India at this time and the Indian visa/immigration system is very unorganized and unpredictble.
Jeff sporting his dhaka topi (Nepal hat).
He seems to be settling in quite nicely.

Bicycling in Nepal:
Rest break at the mountain pass.

Afternoon rest and hydration break from the sun in a village.

The first leg of our Nepal bicycling adventure took us through forests and jungles.  The heat continued to be over 100 degrees and the humidity was at an all time high for us.  We were having a hard time staying hydrated as it seemed we'd have more sweat dripping off of us than what we are able to consume (even though we would each drink ~6-10L fluid per day!).  We would try to get an early start and get most of our miles covered in the morning, knowing that the heat of the afternoon was going to require frequent rest stops.
No A/C at Hotel Paradise.  We had to use our mosquito nets. 
  We biked through a wild life preserve and saw many signs for tigers.  At first it was a little unnerving.  However, after seeing goats and cows
being herded down the road we knew we were
safe.  I think tigers prefer them over us (or at least that was my belief).  We did see monkeys and we were lucky enough to see elephants in the wild.  That was a real treat!

Since it was ~100 degrees in our room we sat outside with the locals at Hotel Paradise.

I don't know Nepalese but I think the picture says it all. 

We saw 2 elephants in the wild while biking.  WOW!!  You don't see that everyday!

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Because we need to incorporate Kathmandu into our plan (that's if we want Jeff to come back with us) and we need to be in New Delhi by June 9th to prepare to fly back, we need to move forward a little quicker.  Therefore, once we hit Butwal, Nepal we got on a local bus and took it into Pokhara.  It was quite an experience.  The bus made frequent stops delivering parcels to different villages and picking up other items and passengers.  We had big bags of grain throughout the whole walkway, baskets of live chickens, etc.  There was always room for one more passenger even if all the seats were taken.  They would then stand in the walkway or ride up on top of the bus.  At one point we had to wait 1 hr to cross where a bridge had recently been washed away due to high rains.  A temporary crossing was made.  Remember, these local buses are not air conditioned and Ward and Jeff do not have the stature of the locals.  Just because you are a little bigger than them doesn't mean you get any more room in your seat!  The route through the mountains was very busy and winding.  Sometimes its best to just shut your eyes so you don't see what is coming or how close you are to the edge.  (If anyone saw "Ice Road Truckers" when they drove from India to Nepal you know what I am talking about.) 
This photo is taken from a pier on Fewa Lake. 
We dropped down into Pokhara.  What a beautiful site.  Yeah!  We made it and we're ready to start our next phase...a trek in the mountains.  (See next blog).

Photo to the left was taken from a pier on Fewa Lake.  It is on the Lake Shore tourist side of Pokhara City.  The city is actually very large and is nestled in this range of mountains.  Very beautiful!

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